90 percent of all small businesses get business from referrals, which means your network is your net worth in business. Sales are the lifeblood of your business. Not only that, repeat business and word of mouth referrals are what will make your business sustainable. But what if your personal network is drying up and you need to create a new referral engine? That means you must start pounding the pavement at networking events to build new connections. Let’s look at what you should be doing to network and promote your small business.
#1 Create a Networking Goal
When you attend a networking event, focus on meeting only five quality contacts. The reason for this is that you only have a small amount of time to follow up with new people, so five is a manageable number.
#2 Have a Plan for the Networking Event
When you buy a ticket to an event, you should immediately pick out key targets in advance to build your network. Look at the invitation, the host committee or board list to figure out who you might want to meet. Take a friend and split up so you can work both sides of the room.
#3 The Reception is the Event
Any event you attend that has a reception, as far as I am concerned, is the main event. You need to be early and be ready to network with a great elevator pitch. Focus on using my “X+Y=Z” method. Develop a memorable sentence that explains,” I do X for Y target audience and deliver Z results.”
#4 You Can’t Bring Your A Game in Your B Suit!
Presentation is EVERYTHING! When you attend a networking event, you should look like someone that your target audience should be talking to. You should look like money and success to get attention. Ladies, be careful not to go too tight or short and men, make sure your shoes are perfectly shined.
#5 Be More Interested, Than Interesting
When it comes to networking, focus on listening first. It’s all about “Give to Get”. You should seek to serve before even thinking about making a sale. We all have two ears and one mouth for a reason, start by listening and seek to help, then your new contact will of course treat you the same way.
#6 No Drive-by Networking
One thing that drives me crazy at a networking event is when someone walks up to me, when I am standing with a small group, and without speaking, hands me a business card. If I have no idea who the person is, I am surely going to trash the card. ONLY give a business card when asked for one.
#7 Your Fortune is in Your Follow-up
Once you meet a new contact, particularly if it’s a warm or hot lead, you have just 48 hours to reach out to them and follow-up. I would start by connecting via LinkedIn, and then send an email or call to make an appointment. Hand written notes are great too, if you are in the same town as your contact. Networking follow up is all about speed to keep you business top of mind.
Networking and generating sales can be really tough without a process. Could you use some help with your sales? I have a gift for you. One of my favorite sales experts, Jeffrey Gitomer and I are giving you a free webinar series called, “How to Really Make Sales.” You know Jeffrey from his New York Times Bestseller, “The Little Red Book of Selling.” Jeffrey is a master at sales and I know you’ll benefit greatly from our knowledge and advice during the “How to Really Make Sales” webinar series.
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- Wednesday Nov. 12, 1pm ET – How to Make a Sales Call
- Thursday Nov. 20, 1pm ET – How to Close a Sale
- Thursday Dec. 4, 1pm ET – How to Build a Relationship
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“Business People Shaking Hands” courtesy of Ambro / www.freedigitalphotos.net